Native Americans of the Northwest

Course Number: ATH 231
Transcript Title: Native Americans of the N.W.
Created: September 1, 2012
Updated: August 27, 2019
Total Credits: 4
Lecture Hours: 40
Lecture / Lab Hours: 0
Lab Hours: 0
Satisfies Cultural Literacy requirement: Yes
Satisfies General Education requirement: Yes
Grading options: A-F (default), P-NP, audit
Repeats available for credit: 0


MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores. Prerequisite/concurrent: WR 121.

Course Description

Surveys the origins, development, and cultural variation of Native peoples in Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Southwest Canada. Explores the historical and contemporary achievements of tribal lifeways within the Northwest region. Prerequisites: MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores. Prerequisite/concurrent: WR 121. Audit available.

Intended Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Define the Northwest culture area in terms of its physical, environmental, and cultural geography.
  2. Distinguish the prehistoric origins of major tribal communities in the Northwest region.
  3. Recognize broad temporal events that link Northwest tribes and inform regional identity.
  4. Analyze past legislative and assimilationist policies that impacted the survival of Native communities.
  5. Identify contemporary Northwest Native cultures and efforts to sustain tribal economic autonomy.

Alignment with Institutional Core Learning Outcomes

Major 1. Communicate effectively using appropriate reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. (Communication)


2. Creatively solve problems by using relevant methods of research, personal reflection, reasoning, and evaluation of information. (Critical thinking and Problem-Solving)

Not addressed

3. Extract, interpret, evaluate, communicate, and apply quantitative information and methods to solve problems, evaluate claims, and support decisions in their academic, professional and private lives. (Quantitative Literacy)


4. Use an understanding of cultural differences to constructively address issues that arise in the workplace and community. (Cultural Awareness)


5. Recognize the consequences of human activity upon our social and natural world. (Community and Environmental Responsibility)

To establish an intentional learning environment, Core Learning Outcomes (CLOs) require a clear definition of instructional strategies, evidence of recurrent instruction, and employment of several assessment modes.

Major Designation

  1. The outcome is addressed recurrently in the curriculum, regularly enough to establish a thorough understanding.
  2. Students can demonstrate and are assessed on a thorough understanding of the outcome.
    • The course includes at least one assignment that can be assessed by applying the appropriate CLO rubric.

Minor Designation

  1. The outcome is addressed adequately in the curriculum, establishing fundamental understanding.
  2. Students can demonstrate and are assessed on a fundamental understanding of the outcome.
    • The course includes at least one assignment that can be assessed by applying the appropriate CLO rubric.

Outcome Assessment Strategies

Tests, research papers, discussion, quizzes, homework, group projects, and other forms of assessment all may be used for this course at the instructor's discretion.

Course Activities and Design

The determination of teaching strategies used in the delivery of outcomes is generally left to the discretion of the instructor. Here are some strategies that you might consider when designing your course: lecture, small group/forum discussion, flipped classroom, dyads, oral presentation, role play, simulation scenarios, group projects, service learning projects, hands-on lab, peer review/workshops, cooperative learning (jigsaw, fishbowl), inquiry based instruction, differentiated instruction (learning centers), graphic organizers, etc.

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

Themes, Concepts, and Issues

  • The use of terms such as Indian and Native American.
  • Anthropological perspectives about the study of indigenous cultures and communities.
  • Differences in perspective about genetic origins and cultural origins.
  • Differing perceptions about cultural origins and prehistoric antecedents.
  • Importance of geography and environment on the development of culture.
  • Concepts of cultural ecology.
  • Differentiate coastal tribal traditions from plateau and intermontaine regions.
  • Description of the major cultural and geographic divisions in the Northwest.
  • Description of the major linguistic phyla spoken within the Northwest.
  • History of early Northwest Native/European encounters.
  • Variation and diversity of tribal communities.
  • In-depth descriptions of Native groups that best represent a specific part of the region.
  • Linguistic diversity in tribes of the Northwest.
  • Definitions of ethnic group versus tribe
  • Prehistoric and historic occupation sites in the Northwest.
  • Differences in sociopolitical and sociolinguistic organization.
  • Examples of anthropological research in the Northwest.
  • Cultural traditions remain a vital part of modern life.
  • Northwest tribes continue to maintain a continuity of cultural heritage.

Competencies and Skills

The successful student should be able to: 

  1. Identify the longevity of tribal cultural traditions in the Northwest.
  2. Distinguish the primary differences between coastal and inland tribes.
  3. Recognize the connections between prehistoric, historic, and contemporary cultural attributes.
  4. Provide examples of how contact with other cultures impacted Northwest tribes.
  5. Connect prehistoric cultural achievements to modern tribal identity.